Cartmel Priory, which is in the village of Cartmel near Grange over Sands in the Lakes and approximately five miles south of the foot of Windermere Lake, is a priory which was founded by William Marshal in 1190. William Marshal was Baron of Cartmel and Earl of Pembroke. A prior and twelve monks, their main duty was to offer prayer for William’s family in perpetuity, came from Bradenstoke Priory in Wiltshire, where William’s father was buried.
Unfortunately, in 1536 the priory was dissolved, four of the monks together with ten villagers, who supported them, were hanged. However, because William Marshal had given an altar and provided a priest for the church,the villagers petitioned to keep the church as it was their only place of worship, and it was this request that saved the priory. However, between 1624 and 1790 it was used as a prison and later as a grammar school. The gatehouse became a museum in 1923 and in 1946 it was given to the National Trust, who operate it as the Cartmel Priory Gatehouse. This church, which is steeped in history, has many features of special interest inside and outside.